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Taranaki Offers Spring Feast Of Gardens, Arts, Food

From Waikiki to Waitara, New York to New Plymouth, Havana to Hawera – this spring Taranaki is the place to visit for gardens, the arts and entertainment.

With international travel off limits, the region will have more to offer this year than ever before, says Taranaki Garden Festival manager Tetsu Garnett.

For the first time ever, the 33rd annual festival, running October 30 to November 8, is partnering with the three-day Taranaki Arts Trail.

“This year’s festival is about really looking at what Taranaki is good at – and that means showcasing our gardeners, our artists and our region, which is so exciting,” Garnett says.

For the past few years, the garden festival has partnered with the Taranaki Sustainable Backyards Trail, and that relationship is continuing.

“Working with the both the sustainable and arts trails is about Taranaki organisations working together for the benefit of the whole region,” she says.

The arts trail was meant to run in June but was delayed because of Covid 19 lockdown restrictions. It’s now on from October 30 to November 1. In spring, New Zealand visitors and Taranaki people will be able to immerse themselves in 40 stunning private and public gardens of all styles and sizes. They can also learn about sustainable practices and growing food, while visiting 35 properties, and can explore studios and galleries to see the work of 85 Taranaki artists.

“The idea is for people to visit a garden, then pop around the corner to see an artist,” Tetsu says.

Arts Trail co-ordinator Niki Jenkinson agrees. “It’s lovely for visitors to the garden festival to have something additional to see and spend their money on, and everyone is doing regional travel.”

There is a huge mix of artworks to discover, including sculpture, ceramics, glass, paintings, printmaking, fibre, photography, woodburning and mixed media. This is the seventh time the arts trail will be held, and information about artists and locations can be found on the flip side of the Taranaki Garden Festival programme. The double-sided booklet, packed with maps and planned events, also contains details and dates for the sustainable gardens.

“You will find homes with productive veggie gardens, fruit orchards, eco-homes, water collection, solar panels and pest management,” says Erin Strampel, Taranaki Sustainable Backyards Trail co-ordinator.

“It’s showing how everyday people are maximising the spaces they have in the Taranaki region, from urban to rural.”

Strampel says during Alert Levels 4 and 3, Taranaki people showed a greater interest in growing their own food, with places like Mitre 10 having a rush on seedlings.

“The community focused on being a bit more resilient in terms of growing food because of the uncertainty of lockdown,” she says.

From October 30 to November 15, there are daily events to meet the tastes of visiting and local foodies, as well as special offerings from Taranaki’s welcoming hospitality sector.

“Feastival is a culinary celebration around our mountain showcasing our hospitality – the restaurants, bars, cafes, food producers, brewers and distillers – and our region’s top-quality produce,” says Rachel Church, the festival’s founder.

Church says Feastival has partnered with TAFT because of the synergy between gardens and fresh seasonal ingredients grown in the region.

To spice up spring even further, TAFT’s latest arts festival offering, RESET 2020, runs from November 5 to 15. It will serve up a diverse New Zealand line-up of cabaret, comedy, theatre and music, says TAFT CEO Suzanne Porter.

“It’s about Taranaki revitalising itself after lockdown and saying to the rest of New Zealand ‘hey, we are open’,” she says.

“All these combined events provide a really unique experience for the month of November,” Porter says.

Add these to our existing attractions that span outdoor discovery, culture, arts and food and dining, including the likes of Taranaki Maunga, Tawhiti Museum, Puke Ariki, Govett-Brewster/Len Lye Centre, New Plymouth’s Coastal Walkway and our food and producer tours from Discover Taranaki, and she believes there are multiple reasons for people to visit the region, and to stay for longer.

Porter says Venture Taranaki has strongly supported the alliance between the garden festival, arts trail and Feastival.

“Taranaki has long had a tradition of amazing contemporary arts and internationally-recognised gardens, as well as a deep expertise in quality food. This year, visitors and residents will have a unique opportunity to experience all that in one signature month,” says Justine Gilliland, Chief Executive of Venture Taranaki.

“Every region in New Zealand is trying to attract visitors to their place, so this fantastic and unique offering that leverages our signature attractions and strengths sets us apart for an experience like no other.”

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